Biology

Courtesy of James Costa

There is no doubt that Charles Darwin’s trip to the Galapagos Islands in the 1830s changed his life’s work. It  put him on the path to develop his game-changing theory of evolution. But Darwin’s observations were not isolated to one exploration. For years after his pivotal excursion, Darwin conducted unorthodox and innovative experiments to test his speculations, and he often did so in his own backyard. 

child drinks soda
Staff Sgt. Matt McGovern / U.S. Air Force - Commons

Researchers have long been aware of a link between exposure to violence and obesity in adolescents. Now a new study is untangling some of the reasons that connection exists.

The study used smart phones to monitor adolescents in California and North Carolina. It tracked their exposure to violence and subsequent activity levels, fatigue, and consumption of fast food and soda.

Kathy Cowell

A childhood spent in downtown Manhattan did not dampen Adam Summers’ passion for the outdoors. His family took yearly trips to Canada’s woods and streams, which instilled in him a special passion for marine life. Now a comparative bio-mechanist, Summers is an expert in the evolution, anatomy and movement of fish.

www.adampiore.com/

 The great engineers of the twentieth century conquered the outside world: planes, skyscrapers and rockets. Today, some of the best engineers are looking inwards at spaces like the human body and discovering ways to fix and enhance it.

Courtesy Sönke Johnsen

Sönke Johnsen was always driven by art. As a youth he captured documentary photos on the streets of Pittsburgh and developed them in a homemade dark room. Later he practiced and taught modern dance. But Johnsen's pursuit of artistic awe led him on a surprising path toward biology. Today, as a professor of biology at Duke University, he plunges thousands of feet under the sea, discovering mysterious marine animals that hide in plain sight. He has won multiple awards for his scientific writing, teaching, and mentorship.

The Ant Man

Jun 14, 2016
photo of Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith

The trail of ants across the kitchen counter may be a nuisance to some, but to biologist Adrian Smith, it is a fascinating phenomenon full of mystery. Smith studies the evolution of different ants and their social patterns. He also films the insects to document their intriguing characteristics.

The Man Who Touched His Own Heart, is a history of science and medical efforts to understand the heart.
Little, Brown & Co/2015

Biologist, writer and professor Rob Dunn was not always going to be a scientist, but he was probably born to be one. 

David J. Tuss

From horns to claws, teeth and talons, the animal kingdom features many natural weapons.

  

Much of what we know about autism is publicly disputed, from the definition of autism itself to the reasons behind the increase in diagnoses. 

This is an example of the style of graphic in the textbook
E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation

Attention teachers and lifelong learners: noted naturalist and biologist Dr. Edward O. Wilson has a new product out that just might make you swoon. It's a gorgeous high-tech interactive textbook series with full-color photos, 3D animations and interviews with working scientists. It's aligned with educational standards and it's free.

APOPO HeroRAT tea egg training  Dammies trainee HeroRAT swaps a tea egg containing a sample of TNT he has just found for a banana treat
flickr.com / APOPO

    

Most Americans think of rats as nuisances to be trapped and destroyed. But in Tanzania, giant pouched rats use their acute sense of smell to detect landmines and other explosives. Dr. Danielle Lee is an animal behavior scientist based at Oklahoma State University and she researches the African giant pouched rat. 

The olinguito is the first new species of carnivore discovered in the western hemisphere in 35 years.
NC Museum of Natural Sciences

A North Carolina scientist is part of a team that's made a big find: the first carnivore to be discovered in the Western Hemisphere in 35 years.  

The new animal is called the olinguito (pronounced oh-lin-GHEE-toe). But for the longest time, olinguitos were thought to be olingos, small raccoon-like carnivores that live in the Andes Mountains.

Scientists have just solved a case of mistaken identity. It involves a creature that looks like a cross between a house cat and a teddy bear, and it lives high up in the cloud forests of the Andes.

For over 100 years, scientists thought this animal was a well-known member of the raccoon family. Specifically, they thought it was a critter called the "olingo." But one scientist recently took another look and realized he had an entirely new species on his hands.

Marianne LaFrance, a psychologist at Yale, makes a comparison between a genuine smile (left) and a fake smile (right).
Marianne LaFrance

Sure, it's more or less a given that we smile when we're happy and we smile when our picture is taken.  But do we also smile automatically throughout the day when we make eye contact with strangers?  How often do we smile in conversation? 

A southern cricket frog
Matt Edmonds, creative commons

Southern cricket frogs are disappearing in the Piedmont of North Carolina at an alarming rate. Their disappearance mirrors a national trend that shows dwindling populations of all amphibians including other frog species, toads and salamanders. They play an important ecological role by feeding on pests and other insects.

Online networking sites have become one of the primary ways humans forge connections with each another. Ian Gilby tells us that Gombe chimps might be just as interested in social networking as we are. He's been studying the ways chimpanzees form coalitions with one another in order to thrive and reproduce.

A biologist at UNC-Chapel Hill is one of 15 scientists chosen to join a national plant research program. Dr. Jeff Dangl studies how plants recognize and respond to diseases. His research is part of a $75 million grant awarded last week by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Dangl says the program has wide implications for human health and the environment.